How many times have you started to track your calories and then you end up not seeing the results you hoped for?
And then you go and try a fad diet like keto, carnivore, fasting, etc. and you see progress?
This happens a lot, and it gets people to think that tracking calories doesn’t work.
However, tracking calories and macros can be a great tool to help you see how you eat on a normal basis, and it also gives you great awareness on how many calories are in foods and what the macro breakdown is of those foods.
Tracking calories is a tools we use for most clients when they first come to us. Its probably the best tool there is to see where a client is currently at.
The downside is it can be tough to get the hang of and there are a lot of errors that can be made which complicates the situation.
If you have ever tried tracking your calories and thought it was a pain and didn’t work then read this blog to see if you made one of these common mistakes.
➡️You only track 4 or 5 days out of the week
Adherence is one of the biggest culprits as to why someone doesn’t see results from tracking.
When you track for a few days you think that you will eat like that on the days you don’t track, but usually, the untracked days involve a lot of tasty calorie-dense foods that give you the feeling you aren’t eating a lot, but they are loaded with calories, taking you out of the desired energy balance. In my opinion this is just because you are not as accountable to yourself when you don track.
The worst part is you are putting in a lot of effort on the days you are tracking and then negating any benefit on the untracked days.
Untracked days will kill your progress more than anything else, so before you decide that tracking calories doesn’t work or that you need to reduce your calories you need to first take a hard look in the mirror to see if you are sticking with it.
Chances are your lack of consistency is why tracking is not working for you.
In the beginning you can get away with tracking less because any improvement will be beneficial, but at some point if fat loss slows down, make sure you are tracking atleast 90% of the time.
➡️Only track “health” foods
Another common mistake with tracking is we tend to omit the tasty treats we had throughout the day.
And then you only track your “healthy” foods.
The unfortunate thing here is that the body does something with everything you give it whether you track it or not.
Too many clients think that if they don’t log it then it wont count, but it doesn’t work that way.
Those tasty treats are usually calorie-dense, meaning they aren’t a lot of food but you get a lot of calories for the amount of food. Basically, you can feel like you aren’t eating much, but your caloric intake is much higher than you think.
Not tracking these types of foods can easily add 250-500 calories per day. Doing this regularly can be the difference in seeing a pound of weight loss vs nothing.
➡️Have no plan for the day
Having no plan is going to make tracking calories/macros exhausting and just too challenging.
Instead of planning, you try to play the macro game where each meal you try to make things fit. This is usually accompanied by a client saying that tracking calories is just too challenging. And takes up too much time.
You don’t have to have every ounce of food planned for the day, but having some blueprint for the day will save you a lot of time and headache.
Take some time out the night before or the morning of and plan some meals or maybe just log your protein for the day.
Anything is going to be better than nothing.
➡️Trying to fit too many tasty foods in
You hear that counting calories/macros gives you flexibility, so you take it too far and try to fit in as many tasty foods as possible.
Instead stick with the 80/20 rule, where 80 percent of your foods come from nutrient dense whole foods, and then the rest of the time you eat what sounds good to you.
Eating too many tasty foods also can lead to less important nutrients being consumed, which can leave you feeling like crap. It can also lead to high hunger levels, which makes adherence a challenge.
We also know that processed foods can lead to a higher caloric intake. Read this blog here to find out why.
➡️Using too many ingredients in your meals
Instead of sticking to easy to track meals, you try to make “macro friendly” meals or meals that require a lot of ingredients. This can make it tough to keep up with the tracking because there are just so many things that go into the meal.
If you are having trouble tracking or stuck at a plateau, make sure most of your meals are fairly basic and don’t require a ton of ingredients so you can get a better idea of how many calories you are actually consuming, and this will make tracking much easier and more manageable.
➡️Too much variety from day to day
Another killer is that you have to have different meals every single day.
Each day is different. If each day you have something different this can make tracking extremely challenging.
Instead, have each day look relatively similar. This doesn’t mean every meal needs to be the same. But having at least 1-2 staples per day is key.
Another thing you can do is have a rotation of meals. This way you never get sick of one.
But having something different every single day and every single week is going to make tracking tough.
With online clients, we work on having mostly the same meals or the same amount of meals per day.
➡️Poor macro set up
Another reason counting macros or calories doesnt work for you is because you have a poor macro nutrient set up. My Fitness Pal can be a great tool, but it usually has a poor macro nutrient set up.
A lot of times when people are trying to build muscle and lose body fat they just focus on calories and this can lead to really low levels of protein.
Or carbohydrates/fats are either too low or high.
While calories are the most important to lose weight, how you set up your macros can play a big in how it manipulates your body composition.
Read here on how to find your macros.
➡️Serving sizes are off
When a client isn’t seeing the progress they want, one killer is that their serving sizes are off.
Its usually with foods like oils, nut butters, snack foods, etc.
Eyeballing your serving sizes could be causing you to add 250-500 extra calories per day.
Its a good idea to weigh your food when you can to ensure the serving sizes aren’t off, especially if you are stuck.
There you have the most common tracking mistakes.
Before you decide tracking isn’t for you, check over these to make sure you aren’t making at least one of these mistakes.
If you need more guidance or help with tracking macros/calories fill out the link HERE and lets get to work!